Apr 1, 2011

Management may buy WXEL-TV

South Florida's WXEL-TV/Channel 42 may be purchased by its current management for $700,000, the Palm Beach Post is reporting today (April 1). That's "a bargain price any way you look at it," said station President Bernie Henneberg. He said he'd need $1.5 million for both the sale and initial station operating costs. About 15 of 30 invitees showed up at a potential backers' meeting Thursday.

The station went up for bids more than six years ago (Current, Nov. 29, 2004). Current owner Barry University agreed last year to sell WXEL-FM to American Public Media's Classical South Florida in Broward County for around $4 million.

Orlando's overlapped WMFE exits the public TV business, sells Channel 24

WMFE, the public TV and radio station in Orlando, Fla., said today (April 1) it’s getting out of the TV business and sticking with public radio. It has agreed to sell its TV operation and filed with the FCC to transfer its channel to a buyer, not yet identified, according to Lorri Shaban, a spokesperson.

For WMFE-TV, underwriting revenues are down 68 percent since 2007, and individual giving is down 40 percent, according to the news release, but WMFE-FM reached its pledge goal ahead of schedule, and has had strong audience growth since going all-news in 2009.

The decision was different from the choice made at KCET in Los Angeles, which dropped PBS programs, but had one of the same causes: WMFE divides the PBS audience with overlapping public TV stations — in WMFE’s case, WDSC in Daytona and WBCC in Cocoa. While WMFE pays $1 million a year to PBS, according to its news release, the other stations pay less than a quarter as much, though they can air fewer PBS programs.

"There are simply too many things negatively impacting public TV today,” said WMFE President José A. Fajardo. Given the declining donations to the TV station and expected increases in PBS program fees, "at least in our market, we think the model is no longer viable."

Proceeds from sale of Channel 24 will go into an endowment, Fajardo told the Orlando Sentinel. Five staffers have lost their jobs and more will follow, the newspaper reported.

Cochran, Blumenauer named Champions of Public Broadcasting

Two longtime pubcasting congressional advocates, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), will receive this year's Champion of Public Broadcasting awards from the Association of Public Television Stations, it announced today (April 1). The annual honors are presented to members of Congress and other individuals who have had a "tremendous impact on the ability of local public broadcasting stations to meet the most critical needs of the communities they serve," APTS said.

Previously, APTS had praised Cochran for his support for station financial stabilization funds in 2009 (Current, Dec. 14, 2009) and he also received the Ralph Lowell Award, public television's highest honor, in 2000 from CPB.

Blumenauer lead the charge for public broadcasting in the recent House battles over funding, sponsoring an amendment to salvage the CPB outlay in a Continuing Resolution. The amendment was defeated just before midnight on Feb. 16.

Largest Nova audience in five years for "Japan's Killer Quake" episode

Nova's March 30 episode, “Japan's Killer Quake,” was watched by some 7 million viewers, based on Nielsen data from 49 metered markets — the series' largest audience for an original broadcast in five years, according to PBS.